The Mine aims to dig deeper in the multi-dimensional, ever-evolving art scene


It was installation day at The Mine. Mapping Within: An Alternative Guide to Tehran and Beyond was on its way up. Curator Sohrab Kashani was adjusting Yousha Bashir’s hearts pinned to a blank industrial wall. There was drilling and hammering. Auction house Paddle 8 was in the process of putting all works up as lots for a simultaneous online auction. Sanaz Askari, the Founder of The Mine and I sat down at a rough wooden table in the centre of it all. The Mine launched in 2013 with the motto ‘Creative Chaos’. The space itself sits in a warehouse next to a boxing club in Al Quoz rather than safely within one of Dubai’s two established gallery hubs.

The Mine,  March 2015, Mapping Within group exhibition, view

The Mine, March 2015, Mapping Within group exhibition

Askari, who is Iranian but has felt at home in many places around the world,  is hard to label. She has a lob haircut and a voice like a reed flute and is so naturally herself that despite her new kid on the block status has a true instinct for identifying up and coming artists who will get a UAE audience talking.

Since opening, The Mine has shown upwards of 40 emerging artists in monthly exhibitions that have cultivated an underground following primarily of 20- something’s who are tired of predictable openings with canapés. The legwork involved in curating a group show is overwhelming. Askari says, “When you have six artists participating it’s almost like exhibiting six shows, but that’s okay because it stimulates the viewers more. It’s like offering them a salad instead of just raw lettuce.”

Exactly what kind of salad is The Mine, though? Askari simply laughs in response to the question: “People are always asking, ‘Tell us what you really are’, but I resist. We don’t want to be one-dimensional and play it safe. Art is not just one thing either. It is constantly evolving, and that is what this space is about.”